Tuesday, October 22, 2013
8:00pm (Reception 6:30-7:30pm)
An Evening with Will Self
discussing novel, Umbrella
in conversation with Anthony Miller
William Turner Gallery
Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404
$20 General Admission
$35 Includes Self’s book + Reserved seat
Will Self is an English author, journalist and television personality. Self is the author of nine novels; five collections of shorter fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing (Umbrella; Walking to Hollywood; The Quantity Theory of Insanity; My Idea of Fun; Cock & Bull; Great Apes and others). His work has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages, and his novel Umbrella was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Self is a regular contributor to publications including Playboy, The Guardian, Harpers, The New York Times and the London Review of Books. He currently writes two fortnightly columns for New Statesman, and over the years he has been a columnist for The Observer, The Times and the Evening Standard. His columns for Building Design on the built environment, and for the Independent Magazine on the psychology of place brought him to prominence as a thinker concerned with the politics of urbanity. Self is also a regular contributor on British television (Have I Got News For You and Shooting Stars, Newsnight, Question Time). He is also a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4.
UMBRELLA is peppered with Self ’s trademark wit, dark humor, and stylistic idiosyncrasies. As the New York Times Book Review noted, “Self belongs in the company of Nabokov, Pynchon, William Gaddis, and Don DeLillo,” and with this novel, he stakes his claim.
In Umbrella, it is 1971, and Zachary Busner is a maverick psychiatrist who has just begun working at a mental hospital in suburban north London. As he tours the hospital’s wards, Busner notes that some of the patients are exhibiting a very peculiar type of physical tic: rapid, precise movements that they repeat over and over. These patients do not react to outside stimuli and are trapped inside an internal world. The patient that most draws Busner’s interest is a certain Audrey Dearth, an elderly woman born in the slums of West London in 1890, who is completely withdrawn and catatonically tics with her hands, turning handles and spinning wheels in the air. Busner’s investigations into the condition of Audrey and the other patients alternate with sections told from Audrey’s point of view, a stream of memories of a bustling bygone Edwardian London where horse-drawn carts roamed the streets. In internal monologue, Audrey recounts her childhood, her work as a clerk in an umbrella shop, her time as a factory munitionette during World War I, and the very different fates of her two brothers. Busner’s attempts to break through to Audrey and the other patients lead to unexpected results, and, in Audrey’s case, discoveries about her family’s role in her illness that are shocking and tragic.
Anthony Miller is a writer, critic, night owl, and editor-at-large of the literary journal Black Clock. The former book critic for Los Angeles CityBeat, where he won a Los Angeles Press Club Award, he has also written for Bookforum, LA Weekly, East Bay Express, the Los Angeles Times, and Poets & Writers. He is a regular contributor to the website HiLobrow and Los Angeles magazine. He studied literature at the University of Chicago and Trinity College, Dublin, but it was a seventh-grade teacher who said of his interpretive process: “Sometimes Anthony makes more of a concept than is actually there.” He is at work on a novel and a not-so-secret history of secret histories.